The sun is out when I wake up. Within minutes dark clouds have covered the sky. Minutes later rain and snow pelt the ground. The wind gusts. Trees are groaning and cracking. There is so much happening in Nature this morning. There is so much aliveness coursing through the woods. As I step out into all of this, I too, am brought alive. Well, maybe not at first. At first, my thoughts are anywhere but on the path beneath my feet; my mind skittering here and there. Watching my thoughts, I discover a pattern. Everything I am doing with my mind at this point is so absolutely un-alive. It is old, worn out, and it is dead. I keep coming back to something my teacher would have asked; what does the aliveness in me want? Does it want to replay old stuff for the umpteenth time? Or obsessively anticipate what is to come? Is this what it means to be alive?
We are the only species who can choose not to express our truest nature. By that I mean, we are the only ones who, intentionally or unintentionally, can suppress the aliveness that courses through us. We are the only mammal that can squash the life force itself. We do not start out this way. We do not plan this. But somehow, through the ways of the world, we can end up believing that our aliveness is found in the buzz we get from sugar, caffeine, alcohol, reality TV and the dramas of social media. What wild animal, tree, or weed, suppresses its vitality? Can you imagine a deer or a wolf purposely doing something to limit its energy? Can you imagine a flower suppressing its bloom?
I teach college students and every week I am both deeply concerned and flabbergasted by how many of them walk around like characters from The Dawn of the Living Dead; eyes shrouded and vacant, faces hidden underneath a baseball cap or sullen expression, physical vibrancy noticeably MIA. They tell me they are exhausted, hungry, stressed, sick and overwhelmed. I have come to label this phenomenon in my mind as “the wall;” a difficult to move and difficult energy to penetrate. Where has their aliveness gone? They did not start out this way.
Everything in Nature, except us, keeps expressing every single ounce of its aliveness until it is all gone. Without hesitation. Without explanation. And without apology. You will never see a bear offering a guilty explanation for why he ripped down your bird feeder. And no matter how often you rail against the weeds, not one of them, ever, will back down. Aliveness does not care about the past or the future. It is not beholding to your fears, your plans or time. It only wants to be expressed. Through you.
At some point, being truly alive becomes a choice. Despite what they showed you, or told you. Despite what those around you are doing. Despite your habits, addictions, mind sets and what is being modeled in the culture. What would it be like to be as vibrant and alive as a small child or wild animal? What would you have to give up? What would you have to open to?
“The great danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”